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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Family First Prevention Services Act and how will it impact Indiana?

The Family First Prevention Services Act, also known as the Family First Act, is a federal law that was adopted in 2018 and based on several core principles. You can find the full piece of legislation here. Research has proven that growing up in a family is essential and best for all children, especially those who have experienced abuse or neglect. The child welfare system will work toward keeping families together by providing access to the right prevention services for the right family, to ensure a stable and safe environment focused on long-term success. Children who are served by the child welfare system need to have the right options, at the right time, with the right services for themselves and their families.

DCS will begin fully utilizing the Family First Act in late 2020.

The Family First Act seems focused on preventing foster care. How can Indiana ensure children will stay safe if there is evidence of abuse or neglect in the home?

The Family First Act is focused on helping families address their needs to result in permanency for the child within the home. Foster care services will still be utilized if the child is unsafe. However, more evidence-based programming will be used to prevent removal from the home when possible.

What are the services that will be delivered to families once DCS implements the Family First Act?  

DCS will provide all of the services it currently offers children and families. Additionally, services will be added or enhanced as determined by the needs of the children and families served by DCS. Health and Human Services is regularly updating their clearinghouse on approved programs. Click here for more information.

Do all placement facilities need a Qualified Residential Treatment Programs (QRTP) designation?

Yes. Once the Family First Act is fully implemented, DCS will only place children in need of services with QRTP designated facilities, outside of exceptions which are mandated by law. The recognized exceptions are facilities that provide services and support for prenatal, post-partum and parenting support for youth, independent living for youth 18 and older, supportive services for sex-trafficking victims and those in a treatment facility for substance abuse.

How will the Family First Act impact providers who work with DCS-involved families?  

DCS will be implementing evidence-based models to ensure that the providers and the agency are focused on better outcomes for children and families.

Why hasn’t DCS already implemented the Family First Act, since states could choose to implement on 10/1/19?  

The Family First Act requires a number of changes both for the agency and the providers that serve our families and children, and legislators recognized some states would need time to adjust. Ensuring Indiana and its partners were prepared for these new requirements lessens the risk of disruption in services.

How can providers prepare for this?  

Providers are strongly encouraged to stay up-to-date through constant communication with DCS representatives. Also, providers can find more information here.

Will there be any funds for providers to get training on the evidence-based programs?

There are many variables that could potentially impact how DCS may be able to support providers' training for evidence-based models as we prepare for and implement Family First, including the pending Family First Transition and Support Act legislation which may provide states with funding to support implementation efforts. In addition, DCS will be closely monitoring the Title IV-E Prevention Services Clearinghouse, found here, as new models get added, and will be researching the training requirements and costs for these models.

DCS has said under the Family First Act, it will place children in need of services only with facilities that are designated as a QRTP. Are there any exceptions?  

Yes. Under the law, recognized exceptions are made for facilities that provide:

  • Services and support for prenatal, post-partum and parenting support for youth
  • Independent living for youth 18 and older
  • Supportive services for sex trafficking victims
  • Treatment for substance use disorders

Send us your questions. 

If you have questions about Indiana's plans for the Family First Act, please email dcsfamilyfirst@dcs.in.gov.

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